Ransom B. Shelden Jr. House, Photo taken 1980
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Shelden, Ransom B., Jr., House
1304 College Avenue, Houghton - Houghton County
Other Names Rice, John H., House
Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) Fraternity House
Property Type frame house
Historic Use DOMESTIC
Current Use SOCIAL
Style Late Victorian
Queen Anne
Significant Person Ransom Sheldon Jr.
John H. Rice
Narrative Description The Ransom B. Shelden Jr. House in Houghton, Michigan faces College Avenue, a major thoroughfare connecting Michigan Technological University and Houghton's downtown district. The Shelden House is a richly textured and asymmetrically massed two-and-one-half-story structure. An octagonal tower and many gables project from the structure. Exterior materials are original wood siding, rough-cut sandstone which composes the L-shaped porch, and fish scale shingles on the second and attic levels. The front gable features gingerbread trimmed vergeboards. Side opening gables reveal diagonal stick trim. A capped central brick chimney and row of broadly arched porch windows decorate the exterior.
Statement of Significance The Ransom B. Shelden Jr. House is significant as the residence of two prominent Houghton businessmen and as an outstanding example of urban residential architecture in the Portage Lake Mining District of Michigan's Upper Peninsula between 1885 and 1915. Ransom B. Shelden, Jr. was born in 1852, the same year his father, Ransom Shelden Sr., opened Houghton's first store and platted the territory which became the village of Houghton in 1861. Ransom Sr. initiated the development of several copper mines near the city, promoted commercial traffic along the Portage Canal, and established the First National Bank of Houghton in 1865. Ransom Shelden Jr. worked in family businesses, and became a clerk for the Deputy United States Collector. In 1893 he purchased several lots on College Avenue from his father's copper company and erected a stately Queen Anne residence on two of these lots by 1896. The Sheldens resided in the house only for a short time, as in 1898 Ransom Jr. and his wife moved to California after selling their home to John H. Rice, another leading figure in Houghton. As director of the First National Bank, Rice figured prominently in the formation of the Houghton Chamber of Commerce in 1919. The Rice family owned the home until 1941, after which ownership changed hands several times. In 1969 Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity purchased the home and since that time it has been used as a fraternity house by students at Michigan Technological University.
Period of Significance 1866-1900
Significant Date(s) 1893, 1896
Registry Type(s) 06/18/1980 National Register listed
Site ID# P23267